Clayton Kershaw doesn’t really care about pitcher wins

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During Saturday’s broadcast on FOX between the Dodgers and Giants, three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw donned the headset for an in-game interview. The interviewer — I believe it was C.J. Nitkowski — asked Kershaw a leading question about the pitcher win as a stat. Kershaw, to his credit, didn’t bite the bait:

FOX: There’s a conversation that goes on, at least from this part of the game amongst analysts, amongst people that follow the numbers about pitchers’ wins. A lot of people think there’s not a lot of value in them. I always say pitchers absolutely believe that there are values in them. For you, would you rather throw a shutout and get a no-decision, or maybe you have what would be an off-game for you which might only be seven innings and two runs but you still get the win? Explain to people why pitchers’ wins are so important to pitchers.

Kershaw: I kind of disagree for the most part. I mean, do we win the no-decision or not as a team?

FOX: […] Team wins are the most important. But what about pitcher wins? Are they overvalued?

[At this point, it feels like Kershaw doesn’t want to throw the interviewer under the bus so he plays along.]

Kershaw: At the end of the day, they might be a little overvalued but still, it feels good to look up and see your record being a winning record as opposed to 2-6 or something even if you’re pitching well. I think the confidence factor and having a good record, it definitely helps. But you can, nowadays, look at a lot of things and understand how well a guy’s pitching or not.

FOX: You’re killing me, dude. Brian Kenny is gonna be all over me now. […]

Kershaw: What I will say, though, is that there’s certain pitchers out there that know how to win games and that always keep their team in games. We had a guy for the last three years, Zack Greinke, even this year he started off slow but he’s still, you know, 8-3 or something like that. He just knows how to win. You can see that over the course of a career. So there’s definitely guys out there like that that no matter what their peripheral numbers are know how to win the game.

The debate over the usefulness of the pitcher win statistic has been beaten into the ground, but it’s worth noting how the baseball zeitgeist is changing. Because Sabermetrics are so much a part of the game now, players currently playing and those that will be coming into the league in the future will be well-versed in the statistics. Players in the past balked at the new numbers because they weren’t used to them and their value hadn’t yet been demonstrated. Once the players are on board, it will be only certain segments of the media left in the dust. Adapt or die, as they say.

By the way, some pitcher record oddities:

As that selection illustrates, a pitcher can overcome poor performance if his team has a good offense. On the flip side, a pitcher can be screwed out of wins if his team has trouble scoring runs or has a subpar bullpen.

And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Nationals 13, Pirates 0: The scores of the last five games the Nationals have played: 13-0, 16-8, 15-14, 2-1, 17-7. Which of these doesn’t belong?

Heh, trick question. All but the 2-1 score don’t belong because the rest are football scores that, however fun they may be in isolation, are the products of the sort of breakdown of baseball aesthetics which I ranted about yesterday. I mean, I guess there’s something in every game for everyone, but at some point these conga-line-around-the-base-paths games become dreary as hell, yes?

At least this one had some pitching from one of the teams, as four Washington pitchers combined on a four-hit shutout. But even then it was the equivalent of a bullpen game, with the starter, Joe Ross, only going three and a third innings thanks to being hit with a comebacker. So you didn’t even get the benefit of a traditionally nice starting pitching performance. Oh well. Asdrúbal Cabrera homered and drove in five runs. Adam Eaton, Matt Adams and Trea Turner went deep for the Nats as well. Juan Soto reached base five times. Someone missed an extra point along the way. Whatever. These are kinda fun games when they’re rare, but when they happen every night you can have ’em.

Royals 5, Orioles 4: Nicky Lopez and Nick Dini hit back-to-back homers on consecutive pitches in the seventh inning to turn a one-run game into a three-run game. By virtue of a late O’s comeback that fell short, those dingers proved to be essential game-winners. Guess you could say they hit those . . . in the nick of time?

[Ed: You could say that, but I’d really prefer you didn’t]

Who’s that talking?

[Ed: It’s me, your editor]

But I don’t have an editor. I thought that was fairly obvious.

[Ed: Just go back to recapping, Craig]

Um . . . OK. That’s eight straight losses for the Orioles. We need a ten-game series between them and the Pirates right now.

Mariners 9, Rays 3: The M’s jumped all over Brendan McKay, scoring seven off of him — though only three earned — in the first two innings. After the game he was optioned back to Durham, so no, not a great night for the kid. He’ll be back, though. He’s too talented not to be. Tom Murphy homered twice and drove in four for Seattle and Austin Nola also went deep and drove in three.

Padres 3, Reds 2: The starting pitching matchup was Trevor Bauer vs. Eric Lauer — Bauer vs. Lauer! — so that’s fun. Neither pitched poorly — Bauer bounced back from his nightmare start against the Nats last week, allowing three over seven and striking out 11 — but Bauer took the loss. Lauer allowed only one run over four and the Pads bullpen only surrendered one more over five. Francisco Mejía homered for San Diego. Manny Machado had an RBI single, which makes him 10-for-15 in his career off Bauer with four homers, two doubles and six RBI. He owns Bauer so thoroughly that he’ll have to give permission to whatever team tries to sign him when he hits free agency after next season. The Reds mounted a ninth inning rally against Kirby Yates, loading the bases and getting three hits, but he got out of it having allowed only one run to cross the plate.

Cardinals 3, Brewers 0: Dakota Hudson took a no-hitter into the seventh but was lifted when he reached 111 pitches and started to get into some trouble. The Cardinals bullpen carried the no-no on into the eighth, but Yasmani Grandal broke it up with a double. It happens. Still, St. Louis got the shutout — a one-hitter — and that’s pretty sweet. Paul DeJong homered for the Cards, who have won eight of ten and hold a half game lead over Chicago.

Rangers 8, Angels 7: The Angels held a 7-1 lead after two innings but would not score again. A Rougned Odor RBI single in the eighth tied things up and forced extras and then Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit a chopper that turned into a walkoff infield single, scoring Jose Trevino for the win. Trevino homered earlier. Hunter Pence had three hits and reached base five times. Shohei Ohtani had a big night for L.A. in a losing cause, hitting an RBI triple, reaching base four times and scoring twice.

Astros 5, Tigers 4: Yuli Gurriel had two hits and drove in two as the Astros jumped out to an early lead and then held on despite allowing scads of Tiger baserunners. Fourteen hits for Detroit, in fact. Like strikes in bowling, however, bunching hits up is sometimes more important than the number you have.

White Sox 6, Twins 4: José Abreu hit a three-run homer in the Sox’ four-run third inning while Ivan Nova allowed only two runs over six despite giving up ten hits. Apart from that homer, Kyle Gibson pitched well for the Twins. Let’s check in on both starters’ assessments of their nights. First Gibson:

“In this case, I picked the wrong time to not execute a pitch. When I look back at how many pitches I executed and where my stuff was, it’s one of those weird nights where I felt like I threw the ball pretty well and unfortunately got beat by the wrong guy at the wrong time.”

Now Nova:

“This was one of the best games I pitched the whole year. Guys might say, `Why?’ The way that I was throwing the first two innings it felt like I didn’t have my best stuff. I was able to get to the sixth and only give up two runs. They got 10 hits, and to be able to keep them to two runs with a lineup like this it’s a lot of hard work.”

Baseball be like that sometimes.

Diamondbacks 5, Rockies 3: Carson Kelly — which sounds more like the name of a Pac-10 quarterback than a big league catcher, but we’ll let that go for now — hit a tie-breaking homer in the eighth inning which was followed by a two-run triple by David Peralta to help the Snakes rally for three and the win. Kelly now has 18 homers on the season. Seven INTs, though, and we got what looks to be a trap game against Oregon State next week. Can’t look past them to Oregon or U-Dub, not when you’re playing in Corvallis. These conference games all matter, Jim. There are no patsies.

[Ed: Who’s Jim? And are you feeling OK?]

God, it’s nice not to have an editor.